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Mapping Legal Struggles: Toolkit for Legal Action Across the Balkan Routes

Date 31 August, 2021
Category Special Report

Today the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) is releasing a new legal toolkit for applicants, volunteers, advocates and litigators. The aim of the guide is to map possible legal complaint mechanisms on human rights violations at borders, at both domestic and European level. The guide is a public resource for both the members of the network and other activists supporting people on the move. It seeks to share experiences, best practice, and propose some concrete actions that can be taken against human rights violations at borders and interiors.

A Toolkit for Action

The guide collates legal information and sources, as well as practical experience and knowledge from actual cases, to be shared amongst partners and readers. Of course, litigation in specific cases should be carried out by qualified lawyers, but spreading knowledge and understanding of the existing legal remedies and the law, which are so brutally disregarded at the borders of Fortress Europe, can only contribute to better and more thorough advocacy and a deeper understanding of the scope of the issue. More than that, there are official mechanisms and procedures to be used in establishing responsibility and seeking redress for human rights violations, which do not require extensive legal background and experience.

We want to encourage people on the move, activists and civil society actors to engage in legal procedures and seek justice with the use of legal remedies, even though we are aware of the shortcomings of the legal systems and the grave injustices that remain unanswered even after engaging the highest courts. If nothing else, engaging with the courts and official institutions can expose their inherent contradictions and deficiencies. In practice, people on the move are one of the social groups with the most limited access to justice in Europe. It is extremely hard, impractical and precarious to sue a country from which you have been violently and illegally pushed back. In order to build stronger pathways for applicants seeking justice, this toolkit offers:

  • An overview of the available legal pathways at national, EU and UN level
  • Information on how to file complaints to ombudspersons offices and constitutional complaints
  • List of the deadlines imposed on lodging cases/complaints
  • A directory of legal organisations and supporters that can help

We have to underline that this toolkit is a living document to be nurtured, changed, enriched with experience of other individuals and collectives that will have the fueling energy to fight together these injustices. The toolkit should not be intended or used as an authoritative legal source, as laws and other information might change. We are open for corrections and additions of relevant information and experience, and we invite each of you to reach out in order to collectively enrich and develop this tool.

In late September, a special webinar event will be held to present the toolkit and continue this discussion on the mapping and usage of legal mechanisms. The event will include the authors of the report, Centre for Peace Studies and InfoKolpa, as well as other members of BVMN and contributors to the toolkit. Stay tuned to our website and social media for further information!


This toolkit was a collaborative production led by Centre for Peace Studies and InfoKolpa, with contributions from No Name Kitchen, Josoor, Mobile Info Team, Are You Syrious?, Mare Liberum and Collective Aid. The team would like to express special thanks to Dženita Arapović, Milica Švabić and all the other individuals from across the region for their contributions, insightful comments and everyday commitment for the respect of human rights in their communities. We would also like to thank Hannah Kirmes-Daly for the illustrations featured in the toolkit. As mentioned, this is a living document, and we actively encourage people to get in touch if they have any updates or additional information they would like to contribute. If you would like to know more about BVMN and the work of the legal team, please write to

This publication has been supported by the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM), a collaborative initiative of the Network of European Foundations (NEF). The sole responsibility for the project lies with the organiser(s) and the content may not necessarily reflect the positions of EPIM, NEF or EPIM’s Partner Foundations.